Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sloane Feeding Lily

Sloane has taken the initiative to start feeding Lily, our dog. She gets her bowl and walks to the garage door to go get it. We help her by scooping, but she carries it back and places it in Lily's bowl.

She knows this contains Lily's food, but she can't quite unclip the lid, so we have to help with that step.

She gives us the scooper and we gather up the food and put it in Lily's bowl.

Sloane is wearing a different outfit in this picture, because I couldn't get one the other day since we had a little spill. I was too busy trying to take the picture, I didn't realize the bowl was tipping. But as you can see, this is something Sloane loves to do, so I was able to capture her taking the bowl to Lily's stand the next day.

She puts it in Lily's stand with enthusiasm.

She is almost done...

but not before she tells Lily to eat and claps afterward with pride.

Lasagna Primavera

This is a meatless meal, which I rarely do since my husband is a fan of meat, but we have some friends expecting a baby soon who don't eat alot of meat (the wife is vegetarian). I want to bring them dinner at some point after the baby arrives, and this recipe sounded good.

Freeze-Ahead Lasagna Primavera

*1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for foil
*1/2 cup all-purpose flour
*2 garlic cloves, minced
*6 cups whole milk
*2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach,
thawed and squeezed dry
*1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas
*1/2 pound carrots (4 to 5), halved lengthwise and thinly
*coarse salt and pepper
*1 container (15 ounces) part-skim ricotta (about 2 cups)
*1 large egg
*1 package (9 ounces) no-boil lasagna noodles (12 to 16
*1 pound part-skim mozzarella, shredded
*1 cup grated Parmesan

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium; add flour and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes (do not let flour mixture darken); whisk in milk.

Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add spinach, peas, and carrots; season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set sauce aside.

3. In the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, spread a thin layer of vegetable sauce. Layer 1/4 noodles, half the remaining vegetable sauce, another 1/4 noodles, half the ricotta mixture, half the mozzarella, and half the Parmesan; repeat.

4. Cover dish with lightly oiled aluminum foil, and place on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake 45 minutes, uncover, and bake until bubbling and browned, about 2o minutes more. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

TO FREEZE Prepare through step 3. Cover lasagna tightly with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil; freeze up to 3 months.

TO BAKE FROM FROZEN Remove plastic wrap; cover baking dish with lightly oiled aluminum foil, and place on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 1.5 hours. Remove foil, and bake until bubbling and browned, about 3o minutes more. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe found in April 2008 edition of Everyday Food magazine.

From my experience: This was pretty yummy! I did not miss the meat, but who would when it's loaded with such enticing cheeses. The milk and flour mix took longer to thicken than the recipe recommends. Later, I made this again doubling it to also make one for a friend, and I really struggled to get this part thickened. Just work with it, and give it time. If you are still having difficulty getting the mixture to thicken, make a little more flour and water mixture in a separate bowl, then add it to the milk. Other than that, I had no trouble making this recipe. And as I previously mentioned, I have already made it again, so it's a keeper! Enjoy!

Monday, August 22, 2011

18 Months

These pictures are of Sloane with her tent watching Sesame Street, her favorite television show. Her favorite characters are Elmo, Abby, and Cookie Monster.

Weight: 21lbs. 9oz. (15%)
Height: 32.44 inches (70%)
Head Circ.: 46.5 cm (45%)

Sloane had her 18th month appointment a month ago-that's how long I've been working on this post. Anyway, the visit went well, and Sloane is right on track. She is quite talkative with an advanced vocabulary, which I'm not sure is good or bad for our sake. She is very good at telling us when our phones ring or instructing our dog, Lily to hush. Sloane has had three of her molar teeth come in giving her a total of 9. The fourth molar is giving her a rough time, but she usually tells me when the pain is bad, and otherwise she sticks practically her whole hand in her mouth for comfort. Her hair has grown with the rest of her body. Her locks are at her shoulders with a slight curl on the end. Her temperment fluctuates with her mood. She is very sweet most of the time, but can throw a tantrum like the switch of a light. Her favorite word is "no", even when she means "yes". Nevertheless, Jake and I are loving each moment in Sloane's life more and more each day.

Here are some things Miss Sloane can do:
*walks up stairs with one hand held
*scribbles with crayons
*plays pretend, such as talking on the phone
*recognizes familiar sounds, such as the phone ringing and animal noises
*understands commands
*has a vocabulary of over 50 words
*can put two words together: "patty-cake", "your phone", and "thank you"
*making the transition to cooperative play

As you can see, Lily likes the tent too!

Sweet-and-Sour Shrimp

Have you ever wondered what to do with leftover condiments from restaurants? I always feel wasteful throwing them away, therefore I chose this recipe because I had some leftover Sweet Chili Sauce from P.F. Chang's.

Sweet-and-Sour Shrimp

1 (8-ounce) can pineapple chunks in juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons chili sauce
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons sesame or vegetable oil
1 medium-size green pepper, coarsely chopped
1/2 medium onion, sliced
3/4 pound peeled and deveined medium-size fresh shrimp

Drain pineapple, reserving juice; set pineapple chunks aside. Combine reserved juice, cornstarch, and next 3 ingredients; set aside.

Coat a large nonstick skillet or wok with cooking spray, and add oil. Place over medium-high heat until hot. Add green pepper and onion; stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add shrimp; stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp turns pink.

Stir cornstarch mixture and pineapple chunks into shrimp mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Serve immediately.

4 servings.

Suggested side:
Baked Wonton Crisps

Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame or vegetable oil with 1 1/2 teaspoons water; brush evenly over 12 wonton skins on a baking sheet. Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds and 1/4 teaspoon salt evenly over wonton skins. Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3 crisps).

Recipes found in Cooking Light 5 Ingredient 15 Minute Cookbook.

From my experience: The recipe calls for 1 green bell pepper, but I already had broccoli and a yellow bell pepper cut up. I say use whatever vegetables you have available. Frozen vegetables would work too. It is important, though, to make the sauce and put it to the side, because corn starch needs time work its thickening magic - don't avoid that step. I used the P.F. Chang's Sweet Chili Sauce (and actually some Chick File Polonesian Sauce since I didn't have enough), where it called for chili sauce. This recipe turned out pretty good for stir-fry made at home. The pineapple juice gives it a sweet taste, which appeals to me definitely! Next time save your leftover take-out condiments, and use it in another recipe. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fiesta-Style Roasted Vegetables

I have reached my year mark of this project to experiment with a new recipe each week. I slacked off toward the end of the summer, because I didn't end up doing alot of extensive cooking. My journey with food this year was amusing, therefore I am going to continue, but without any consistency. I have already picked out some recipes for the future, so stay tuned!

Fiesta-Style Roasted Vegetables

1 can (4 ounces) diced green chiles

1 tablespoon vinegar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 package (1.25 ounces) taco seasoning mix

1 small bell pepper, cut into strips

1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch slices

1 small sweet potato, peeled, halved and cut into 1/8-inch slices
1 small red onion, cut into wedges

Nonstick cooking spray

Combine chiles, vinegar, oil and seasoning mix in large bowl; mix well. Add red pepper, zucchini, sweet potato and onion; toss gently to coat. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes to marinade.

Preheat oven to 45o degrees. Cover
15 x 10-inch baking pan with foil and
spray with cooking spray.

Remove vegetables from marinade with spoon; place on prepared pan.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes until tender and browned, stirring once.

Makes 4 servings (1 cup each)

Tip: Substitute yellow squash
for the zucchini, if preferred.

Recipe found in Incredibly Easy Weeknight Meals cookbook.

From my experience: I have cooked this once before. It it is a tasty way to cook fresh vegetables that are starting to reach their expiration since roasting shrivels them up anyway. I used a can of jalapenos, since my husband likes it hot, but I reserved a small portion for my daughter which I sprinkled cinnamon and sugar in hopes she would actually eat them (she did not). I also used different vegetables based on what I had in my fridge: 2 sweet potatoes, 2 yellow squash, 1 zucchini, and a half a carton of cherry tomatoes. Because I had more vegetables than the recipe called, I added an extra tablespoon of oil and an extra half of a tablespoon on vinegar. The recipe called for regular vinegar, but I used white wine vinegar, because that's what I had in my pantry. If you don't have taco seasoning, create your own. I use a palm-full of chili powder, and half-palm-full garlic salt and cumin. For this recipe, I doubled the servings of each. To make this recipe simpler, put everything in a ziploc bag. Then seal and massage to combine and distribute the ingredients. Let it sit in the marinade while the oven is preheating, which is about 15 minutes, then bake. You may have to add about 10 minutes more onto the bake time because sweet potatoes take longer to cook.

Leftover idea: I used the rest of the vegetables and mixed them with some cut up sausage links heating them in a saucepan. To moisten them up, I added a little vinegar and some Worchestershire sauce. To serve, we scooped a spoonful or two of the sausage and vegetable mix in a big tortilla. It was a yummy meal using leftovers!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Big Girl

Sloane found her pacifiers and started playing with them. She put one in her mouth, pulled it out, then put another one in. She did the same thing to with my mouth too! I was kind of worried she would be upset when I took them away, but it was just like any other toy. This time, I threw them away; no need to use them again.

Here she is holding as many of them as possible.

Sloane got Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease recently, so she was inactive for about a day. Here she is watching Sesame Street on our bed.

Sloane has been telling us when she needs to "poo-poo" at times, so we got a potty to get her familiar with it and start connecting the vocabulary. Right now she likes to say "poo-poo" and play on the potty. Below are some pictures of her attempts to sit on the potty.